Sharp Tongue aiming to complete recovery by licking the Aussies
JOSH Tongue started 2017 recovering from back surgery and awaiting his County Championship debut yet the Worcestershire teenager will finish the year Down Under with the England Lions after a dream debut season.
Still only 19, the fast bowler was called up this week to the Lions squad in place of the injured Essex bowler Jamie Porter, and will join fellow Worcestershire youngster Joe Clarke who had been named in the initial squad.
It’s been a whirlwind season for Tongue, who required surgery on his back over the winter and only started bowling again in January.
He recovered at a rapid rate, and made waves on his County Championship bow as he took a five-for against Glamorgan.
Tongue kicked on, playing all 14 red-ball games, and helping Worcestershire’s charge to the Division Two title.
However, even after such a stunning debut campaign, he admits the Lions call-up has come as something of a surprise.
“I’ve known for about a week now and it’s an amazing feeling to be involved,” said Tongue, who took 47 wickets at an average of 25 in Division Two.
“I had my back operation last winter so I wasn’t expecting to play anywhere near as much this season. I thought I would only play five or six County Championship games.
“I’ve got a couple of screws in my back, but the great thing is that it felt fine all year. I’m actually just desperate to play again so I’m looking forward to the training camp and then heading out to Australia.
“I’ve never been before but it will be a great experience. I know Joe Clarke and have come across a few of the other guys in the Lions squad, but there will be a lot of new faces.
“Lots of those guys play in Division One so it will be good to pick their brains and listen to them.”
Tongue had been due to take a spot on the ECB Pace Programme in South Africa, prior to his call-up to the Lions squad.
While he remains raw, he has been able to showcase his ability, and took on an even more important role when overseas all-rounder John Hastings had to cut his season short prematurely due to injury.
That led to Tongue opening the bowling – a challenge he relished as Worcestershire finished their campaign strongly to take the Division Two title from under Nottinghamshire’s noses.
He added: “Winning the Division Two title is the biggest thing I’ve been involved in, and it was amazing to be a part of it.
“We didn’t feel the pressure because Nottinghamshire were ahead for much of the season, but beating them was a big moment.
“They fell off a little bit at the end of the season so it was great to be able to win the title.
“I started getting the new ball when John Hastings got injured, and I enjoyed that. I was always trying to make the batsman play and it worked out well.”